College Board announces it is making changes to SAT

A student reads an SAT practice test book during an SAT prep course in 2005, the last time the test was revamped.

Dirk Shadd | Times (2005)

A student reads an SAT practice test book during an SAT prep course in 2005, the last time the test was revamped.

WASHINGTON — The SAT, the most widely used college entrance exam for generations of students, is getting a makeover.

David Coleman, president of the College Board, which creates and administers the SAT, e-mailed his 6,000 members on Tuesday to inform them that the board will redesign the test to more sharply focus on the "core set of knowledge and skills" that high school graduates need to succeed in college.

In his brief message, Coleman called the project an "ambitious endeavor" but did not provide details about why the College Board wants to change the exam, how long it will take or what the process will entail. Coleman, through a spokesman, declined to comment Tuesday.

The overhaul comes as the SAT is starting to lose market share to a rival standardized exam, the ACT. Historically, the ACT has been taken by students in the West and the South, while those on the East and West coasts have tended to take the SAT.

More than 1.66 million students in the class of 2012 took the SAT, making it the largest class of SAT takers in history. And the pool of test-takers has become increasingly diverse, with rising numbers of low-income, African American and Hispanic students taking the exam.

But in 2011, the number of students who took the ACT surpassed the SAT for the first time, and Coleman suggested in his e-mail that one reason for the makeover is to ensure that the SAT is relevant.

"While the SAT is the best standardized measure of college and career readiness currently available, the College Board has a responsibility to the millions of students we serve each year to ensure that our programs are continuously evaluated and enhanced, and most importantly respond to the emerging needs of those we serve," Coleman wrote.

The SAT was last revamped in 2005, when a written essay was added, the test time expanded and the total possible score raised from 1600 to 2400.

College Board announces it is making changes to SAT 02/26/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 10:14pm]

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